Free speech: the recent Charlie Hebdo incident showed it as an excuse for murder, and while in that case there was clear insightment to violence, others round the world are punished for the very same reason and we, the public, are much less frenzied over the issue. My latest article for the Afghan Online Press commemorates Farkhunda, whose tragic and horrific story many of you may have heard. In this case, she was murdered, martyred perhaps, not for insighting violence, but for challenging an individual over his ignorant practices that contradicted his own religion. So let us take a moment to commemorate this devout, scholarly and brave young woman whose murder truly is a gross injustice. - Yamin Zakaria
Countless women visit the well-known Shah-Du-Shamshaira Mosque and shrine in Kabul seeking the so-called ‘Guardians of the Shrine’, men selling charms and amulets promising help with various issues of life such as childlessness, ill health and finding a suitable husband. This practice goes against the teachings of Islam, because it is based on superstition; but it is so deeply embedded in the Afghan culture that no one thinks of questioning it. Perhaps nobody dares, because within human societies around the world there is an intrinsic, historical fear of challenging the status quo.